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Greta

Loneliness can conjure its own brand of horror. Will I be forever alone? Will a solitary existence drive me to dark places? Those can be fixed by being pro-active and avoiding such fates. But for some, the beast of loneliness can be a difficult one to defeat. Directed by gifted craftsman Neil Jordan, ‘Greta’ explores these issues and the disturbing effect being lonely can have.

Arriving in New York to start her life, Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) discovers a handbag on a train. Determined to return it to its rightful owner, she delivers it to Greta (Isabelle Huppert) a lonely widow who is grateful for Frances’ kindness. Connecting over recent personal losses, the pair quickly form a close bond. All isn’t what it seems as Frances gradually uncovers aspects of Greta’s life that threaten to make Frances’ new life a short one.

Like ‘Play Misty for Me’, ‘Fatal Attraction’ and similar films, ‘Greta’ is a classic ‘stalker from hell’ movie. These films can create their own brand of camp fun among the scares with several descending into over the top territory. ‘Greta’ has its outlandish moments with leaps of logic difficult to accept. Making them palatable are the fantastic performances of the leads who bring their vast acting experiences to the fore. The level of realism even when the story gets more ridiculous enables continual engagement.

Neil Jordan knows how to ramp up the tension and does an effective job. ‘Greta’ may not be in the upper echelons of his career but it doesn’t disgrace it either. He ensures you know where Greta is coming from by her actions even if she’s someone you definitely should avoid. Huppert injects sympathy to her role with Moretz more than matching her seasoned co-star. ‘Greta’ doesn’t outstay its welcome with the pace just right for this type of yarn.

It’s easy creating a fantasy world in the dim of loneliness with ‘Greta’ revealing how extreme it could get. It’s a ghoulish spectacle of personal psychosis which mirrors the Alfred Hitchcock suspense thrillers. Hopefully the viewers who see this film never meet a Greta as ‘reel life’ vs ‘real life’ would be too much for anyone discerning mind to handle.

Rating out of 10: 7

King of Thieves

It’s no wonder movies derive many stories from real life. ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ is an oft used phrased with everyday events often more compelling than anything a writer can dream up. ‘King of Thieves’ is no exception. Based on the daring Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary of 2015, it uses its situation and veteran cast to fair effect. With suitably crackling dialogue, ‘King of Thieves’ reveals a mostly entertainingly dark side to the art of thievery.

Brian Reader (Michael Caine) is an elderly former thief doing his best to walk a straight path. Temptation and boredom swiftly kick in when he hatches a plan for a daring raid on a safe deposit containing a fortune. He gathers a group of similar crooked misfits including Terry (Jim Broadbent) and John (Tom Courtenay) who eagerly join in. The events before, during and after the raid changes them all with the public reaction not all what anyone expects.

‘King of Thieves’ tries its best to educate as well as amuse. Directed at a leaden pace by James Marsh, the story never fully takes flight. None of this is the fault of the actors who are all superb. This isn’t the usual ‘aren’t old gangsters funny’ type caper, but one full of individuals still determined to make a score at any bloody cost. There’s no honour among these thieves with the performers effectively revealing the latent underbelly of brutality beneath the veneer of old age.

Whilst the story is generally involving, letting it down is the uneven pacing and narrative hooks. ‘King of Thieves’ is never sure if it’s a comedy, drama or thriller, with all three never fully blending. The nods to the actors’ past performances are welcome and successfully convey their dodgy past. If the script had been tightened with better focus on each character it may have worked more.

‘King of Thieves’ is still worth anyone’s time although it isn’t as great as hoped. It’s always a pleasure seeing veteran actors do their thing with all adding to their thespian mystique. Real life always provides a fascinating and influential well of incidents such as ‘King of Thieves’ show although it’s advisable not to follow its’ character’s crooked habits.

Rating out of 10: 6